(Bloomberg) -- Ireland’s deputy prime minister said a lack of significant progress on the border question by the time European leaders gather in June will trigger “serious questions” about whether the EU and U.K. can reach a Brexit withdrawal agreement in October.
“If there isn’t progress on the backstop, and the wording around the backstop, within the withdrawal treaty by June, then I think we have to ask come very serious questions as to whether it going to be possible to do it by October,” Simon Coveney said in a Newstalk radio interview Monday in Dublin.
At present, the only plan on the table for keeping the Irish border invisible after Brexit is the EU’s “backstop” option, which would effectively keep Northern Ireland in the bloc’s customs union and parts of the single market if needed. That amounts to erecting a border between Northern Ireland and mainland Britain, which the U.K. considers unacceptable.
Coveney said the government wanted a backstop in the withdrawal agreement, before moving on to negotiate something “better” in future trade trade talks. Yet progress on that is said to have been slowed by the dispute over the Irish border, Bloomberg News reported Friday.
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